MOOSIC – After a day off in the Electric City, Derek Jeter is back in the lineup for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Wednesday evening. For Jeter, it will be his fourth game with the team as he continues to work his way towards a return to the New York Yankees.
Jeter took batting practice and fielded ground balls with Walter Ibarra, then took ten minutes out to meet with reporters in front of the RailRiders dugout before tonight’s game, where he will play seven innings at shortstop.
“I’m playing here tonight. I know that. We’ll see after that,” Jeter told a group of a dozen or so reporters. “I haven’t spoken to Joe. I spoke to Cash a couple days ago, but that was it.”
For Jeter, there is a clear itch to get back in Yankee pinstripes missing nine months worth of off-season activities, spring training, and regular-season games with a broken ankle. One reporter asked The Captain when he felt he was ready to return, to which Jeter joked that he was ready when he got out of the boot in January. Then his serious side took over.
“I’ve done so much in Florida,” Jeter replied. “So when I came here, I was ready.”
He looked good hitting during batting practice, looked smooth in the field, though he did not have to move much for any of the balls hit in his direction. So what more is there for Jeter to work on?
“I’ve pretty much been simulating everything [down in Florida],” Jeter stated. “There might be some things I may not do until September. You can’t really dictate it.”
Being a member of the RailRiders is not just a rehab assignment for Jeter. Though there are a handful of veterans in the locker room, there are also some good prospects, such as J.R. Murphy and David Adams, who are eager to learn from one of the best players in Yankees history. While he works his way back from a pair of broken bones in his ankle, the Captain applies his natural leadership skills in other ways.
“A lot of guys ask questions, they pick your brain a little bit,” Jeter told me. “[So] you try to help out as much as you can.”
With Jeter ready and raring to go and his equipment en route to the Bronx, all indications are that the 39-year-old shortstop will be back this weekend. But while he’s here, he’ll continue pushing against Triple-A pitching and playing the role of mentor to some of the organization’s younger talent.
Dan is usedview.com’s beat writer for the New York Yankees and the Trenton Thunder. Follow him on Twitter at @danpfeiffer74 for all the latest New York Yankees news.